How We Diagnose & Treat CHD
We diagnose most serious CHD during fetal life or soon after birth. For babies in the womb, we do this via fetal echocardiograms. Other times, we’re not able to diagnose the heart abnormality until later in infancy or childhood.
Children with CHD might have symptoms like irregular heartbeats, getting tired easily or shortness of breath.
When you come to Lurie Children’s, the first thing we do is take a detailed history of any complaints. We also take a family history, to learn how genetics might play a role.
We can often diagnose conditions with a history and a cardiac physical examination. If we need further testing, we start with the least invasive imaging to look at the heart. This includes tests such as an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac MRI or cardiac CT scan.
We can both diagnose and treat certain heart defects using a procedure called cardiac catheterization. This involves placing a catheter, or a thin tube, into a blood vessel. Then we thread the tube into various vessels and chambers in the heart, sometimes across valves. Our team does about 1,000 of these procedures each year. We can fix certain types of congenital heart abnormalities using catheterization instead of surgery.
Some conditions do not require any treatment at all or can be managed with medication. More severe abnormalities may require one or more surgeries.